Seat calls for consistency of Spanish government support for electrification ambitions

The firm showcases facility set to provide batteries for VW Group's electric urban car offerings

Seat calls for consistency of Spanish government support for electrification ambitions
Seat and VW have bet big on an electrified future for their Spanish automaking

Wayne Griffiths, CEO of Spanish automotive brand Seat, has issued a call for continuing support from the Spanish government for the firm and its VW Group parent's plans to develop an EV manufacturing supply chain in the country, as the construction site of its planned Martorell battery plant in Catalonia was visited by dignitaries including Spanish King Felipe VI,

"Our commitment to electrification and decarbonisation is clear and now we need the same commitment from the Spanish government,” Griffith says.

"Three years ago we made a big promise: to electrify Seat and put Spain on electric wheels. During this time, we have worked hard to make that goal a reality and the new battery assembly plant is the best proof we are on the right track. We are delivering on our investments, on the creation of new electric cars and on the redevelopment at the factories," he continues.

In November last year, the Spanish government announced 338.2mn ($367.4mn) in grants and 100mn in loans for eight gigafactory projects, including one operated by US OEM Ford in Valencia.

However, this level of investment pales in comparison to the largest instances of government support for battery manufacturing in the EU, such as the European Commission's approval in January of €902mn in German government support for Swedish manufacturer Northvolt for a single plant in Germany.

And Griffiths points out that VW's so-called 'Future: Fast Forward' Spanish e-mobility strategy represents an overall €10bn commitment, "the largest industrial investment in the history of Spain, and which has a direct impact on more than 145,000 jobs".

Thomas Schaefer, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, echoes Griffiths' call for continuing political backing for electrification in Spain, where BEV adoption rates have been slow. "The continuous support of the Spanish government is crucial," he says.

And he widens that plea to politicians continent-wide. "As a group, we are all in to bring electromobility to the front here in Europe. However, besides the right models and battery technology, there is a third factor vital for success: stability and planning security," Schaefer continues.

"To make the mobility transition happen, we urgently need a positive, stable framework for research, investment and infrastructure — to foster progress, prosperity and safeguard long-term employment. That is why we call on the European Commission to stick to e-mobility as the central lever to make the Green Deal a reality."

Multi-brand approach

Seat will invest 300mn in the battery assembly plant at its manufacturing site in Martorell, Catalonia. Batteries assembled at the facility, from cells manufactured at a planned gigafactory in Sagunto operated by VW's Powerco battery maker, will be for VW's electric urban car family. This will start production, at Martorell at least, by the end of 2025.

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"Seat is leading the Volkswagen Group's project for its electric urban car family and is investing more than €3bn in the electrification of Martorell," the company says.

VW's offerings in Europe's affordable BEV segments are primarily through its Skoda brand, with its current VW-branded ID range sitting above these at over 40,000. But the four new cars in the new Spanish-built electric compact family will include two Volkswagen models, including the new ID.2 and an electric replacement for the Polo, one badged with Seat's Cupra marque, and a Skoda.

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